These 10 startups will compete in San Diego’s biggest annual pitch event

Quick Pitch, a highly attended competition event for San Diego startups, has picked 10 finalists for its October event


Over 300 local startups applied to compete in San Diego’s most popular pitch competition, but only 10 finalists will end up on stage later this month. This week, the event’s organizers have announced the chosen few.

The 10 finalists include a mix of life science and tech startups, including two companies recently profiled by the Union-Tribune: sports technology app Stact and brewery software The 5th Ingredient (full list below).

The John G. Watson Quick Pitch competition awards its winners with $75,000 in cash, with $50,000 going to the first place winner. But it’s not the winnings that get startups revved for this event. The competition has a history of selecting startups that go on to raise millions of dollars from local and out-of-town investors. Last year’s winner, Neuralace Medical, raised $3 million from local investors just a few months after the competition. The startup’s CEO, Shiv Shukla, said winning Quick Pitch had a “domino effect” for the company.

“Once others started hearing about our win, we were invited to six other pitch contests where we won nearly all of them,” Shukla said. “From there, investors began to pay attention and we began to see more interest.”

The event, which takes place on Oct. 29 at Qualcomm Hall, will be Halloween-themed. Competing contestants and audience members are encouraged to dress up in costumes for the event.

Quick Pitch has been around quite a bit longer than San Diego’s own startup scene has, founded 10 years ago by angel investor group Tech Coast Angels. In 2017, the San Diego Venture Group, a separate nonprofit that also supports local entrepreneurs, joined forces with Tech Coast Angels to host the event. But this year, the competition has even more support.

Earlier this year, the Venture Group merged with San Diego’s oldest startup accelerator, Connect. The organization, now led by Mike Krenn and Silvia Mah, is backing Quick Pitch.

“Now with Connect on board, there are more people working with us on deal sourcing, screening applicants, and support for the companies,” said Ashok Kamal, executive director of Tech Coast Angels.

Cox Business also sponsors the event.

Last year, Quick Pitch hit max capacity at Qualcomm Hall, selling 700 tickets for the reception and event (the venue only holds about 550). Kamal said they expect a similar turn out this year.

This year’s competition will be judged by a panel of well-known investors, including Nancy Hong from RiverVest Venture Partners, Marlon Evans from Nex Cubed, Caitlin Wege from Tech Coast Angels, Susie Armstrong from Qualcomm, and Sanket Merchant from PeakSpan.

PeakSpan Capital, a venture capital fund with offices in Silicon Valley and New York, has taken a special interest in San Diego startups. The company invested $11 million in Zingle in January (that startup was later acquired for $42 million), and $12 million in PetDesk that same month. The firm’s portfolio also includes local software companies Cloudbeds, Mindtouch and Cordial. And the investors have more capital to deploy, as PeakSpan just closed a $265 million fund earlier this year.

Entrepreneurs often worry that startup pitch competitions rarely attract real investors, as they are most often attended by friends and family of those onstage. Kamal said it was important to Tech Coast Angels to make sure investors were attending.

“We’re using the judging panel to help solve that problem, keeping investors involved in more formal roles,” Kamal said. He also added that several Tech Coast Angels members (local angel investors) were registered for the event.

10 Finalists for Quick Pitch 2019

1859 Inc., a biotechnology instrument company. The startup is aiming to replace “large facilities used for medicine discovery” with one benchtop instrument.

Agragene is an agricultural technology company making a non-toxic product to replace pesticides for farmers.

Agtools Inc. is a supply chain software-as-a-service platform for farmers and other agricultural businesses.

Eyedaptic Inc. is tackling the leading cause of blindness, age-related macular degeneration, by developing software that’s embedded in augmented reality glasses. The goal is to help simulate natural vision.

Jaan Biotherapeutics is a drug developer attempting to regenerate heart muscle by targeting and influencing a type of RNA molecule.

Regenica Biosciences is a medical defense startup building up an arsenal of antidotes and vaccines to protect citizens and military from biochemical threats.

RoomChazer is a website to help students find affordable housing options near their university or internship locations.

Suavei Inc. is a cybersecurity company building protections for Internet-connected devices.

Stact is a sports app for streaming and viewing sports outside the mainstream, such as surfing.

The 5th Ingredient is a software company founded by former Ballast Point engineer Pulkit Agrawal. The tech helps craft brewers keep tabs on their data, using insights to brew better beer while cutting costs and boosting efficiency.